(JTA) – A new Israeli army unit will work on integrating Ethiopian recruits, who are overrepresented in army prisons.
Army Radio reported that Brig.-Gen. Eli Shermeister, who heads the Education and Youth Corps of the Israel Defense Forces, set up the unit last month after senior IDF officers learned that half of Ethiopian soldiers were sentenced to prison at some time during their military service.
Though Ethiopians account for only 3 percent of the Israeli army, one in every five inmates of army prisons is an Ethiopian, Army Radio reported. Immigrants from families from the former Soviet Union accounted for 16 percent of inmates in 2011.
An earlier report from 2012 by Maariv and other Israeli media quoted the IDF as putting the number of jailed Ethiopian soldiers at 10 percent to 11 percent.
“Something happens when Ethiopian recruits enlist and encounter army life,” Major Hila Alperin, the commander of the new Education Corps unit, told Army Radio. “Something goes wrong during their process of adjustment and integration.”